Child dead from morning fire at house at 2014 Rawlings St. in East Chattanooga

Child dead from morning fire at house at 2014 Rawlings St. in East Chattanooga

April 1st, 2013 by Beth Burger in Local - Breaking News

Emergency personnel work the scene of a fatal fire that occurred April 1, 2013, on the 2000 block of Rawlings Street in East Chattanooga.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Chattanooga Fire Department firefighters are still investigating what caused a house fire this morning that resulted in a child's death.

Two children, who were both about two to three years old, were removed from the residence at 2014 Rawlings Street which was engulfed in flames just before 10 a.m., said Bruce Garner, public information officer for Chattanooga Fire Department.

Chattanooga Fire Capt. Dean Rogers removed one child after feeling around the house with zero visibility inside. Both children were found on the floor, Garner said.

One child was pronounced dead on the scene.

The second child, who suffered from smoke inhalation and burns, was taken to Children's Hospital at Erlanger and than airlifted by Life Force to Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga.

The identities of the children and their mother are being withheld until family members are notified, Garner said.

Police were first on the scene just after 9:49 a.m.

Eyewitnesses told police officers there were possibly children inside the home which was filled with intense heat and already billowed black smoke.

They were unable to make entry into the house.

Security bars on the residence posed obstacles for both police officers and firefighters trying to enter the home.

Firefighters managed to squeeze through some damaged bars to make entry.

Numerous emergency calls were placed to report the fire.

Jumoke Johnson, Jr., 19, was staying at a friend's house nearby when he said a woman banging on the door asking for help.

Johnson ran to the house where he watched the children's mother collapse to the ground.

"I knew she was in shock when she fell out," he said. "I knew she was scared."

The woman managed to tell Johnson her two children were inside.

He said he was with a police officer when he tried to get through the back door and could see a child inside. The smoke was just too much though. A fire extinguisher didn't do any good.

Firefighters arrived shortly after to go inside.

An hour after firefighters extinguished the flames, Johnson stood close to the brick residence that continued to smolder.

He said both children appeared unresponsive when a firefighter carried each one out.

"That hurt me and that ain't even my child," said Johnson, who has two small children.

The mother of the children sustained injuries, including smoke inhalation and burns, and was transported to Erlanger hospital. She tried to rescue her children and was unable to reach them, Garner said. It's unclear if she was inside the residence when the fire started. She was found outside the residence when firefighters arrived. She suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to a released statement.

Details on where the fire started inside the residence and what caused it are unclear right now.

The Chattanooga Police Major Crimes Unit is investigating because there is a fatality involved.

This is the second fire fatality of the year. Last week, 95-year-old Z.M. Tussey died from smoke inhalation at a fire at 3226 Van Buren St.